Even as India gets ready to fight Omicron, the Central government has transferred only 50% of its share under the second phase of the COVID-19 Emergency Response & Health System Preparedness Package (ECRP-II package) to the state governments.

The Central Release of Grants in aid for COVID-19 activities under the ECRP-II stood at ₹6,075.95 crore, on November 24, 2021, the health ministry informed the Lok Sabha on December 17. Incidentally, the Centre had released 15% of its share within days of approving the ECRP-II package and transferred another 35% by August 13.

The ECRP-II package worth ₹23,123 crores was approved on July 8. The Central share of the scheme, implemented during the July 1-March 31, 2022 period, is ₹14,744.99 crore.

The scheme envisages the creation of 827 pediatric units in the districts, which will result in creation of 19,030 oxygen-supported beds and 10,440 ICU/HDU beds. It also involves establishment of 42 pediatric centres of excellence (Paediatric CoE), at least one in each State/UT, either in medical colleges, state government hospitals or central hospitals such as AIIMS for providing Tele-ICU services, mentoring and technical hand-holding to the district pediatric units.

The third objective of the scheme is to provide care closer to the community due to the ingress of COVID-19 in rural, peri-urban and tribal areas, by creating 8010 pre-fabricated structures for adding additional beds at the existing CHCs, PHCs and SHCs (6-20 bedded units), which will help in creation of 75,218 oxygen-supported beds.

Establishment of 203 field hospitals (50-100 bedded units), installation of 961 liquid medical oxygen storage tanks, with support to 1,450 facilities for Medical Gas Pipeline System (MGPS), with an aim to support at least one such unit per district. Also, augmenting the existing fleet of ambulances, with 5,768 Advanced Life Support (ALS) and Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulances are part of the package.

During FY 2020-21, under ECRP, the Centre had released funds to the tune of ₹8,257.88 crore to the States/UTs as support to the states for strengthening the health infrastructure, expansion of laboratory network, surveillance and contact tracing, procurement of PPEs, N-95 masks, ventilators etc. While ECRP-I was 100% funded by the Centre, expenses under ECRP-II are shared by the states and the Centre.

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